Stay Safe During an Earthquake With These Guidelines From the Japanese Government
Japan has been hit by many earthquakes in the past. That is why the government has put in place a number of guidelines and measures to prevent the same mistakes from being repeated. What should we do in case of emergency? There are a number of steps that we should be aware of. In this article, I will introduce in detail the guidelines and measures stated by the government.
What you should do to prepare for an earthquake
The government has introduced a variety of measures that families should take to prepare for earthquakes. Here, we will introduce some of the most common measures.
First, let’s talk about furniture placement and fall prevention measures. This is because falling furniture is the most common cause of damage in the event of an earthquake. According to the recent earthquake survey conducted by the Tokyo Fire Department, 30-50% of the injuries were caused by falling furniture.
In particular, people are warned to not place furniture around their sitting or sleeping space. If the space is small, it is recommended to use fall prevention measures. For example, using tension rods (see the picture below) and fixing large furniture that may fall, such as storage shelves, to the wall or ceiling.
Stockpiling food and drinks
To prepare for earthquakes, it is important to keep an emergency stock of food and drinks. In the event of a large scale earthquake, lifelines and access to food sources may be destroyed, making it difficult to supply food for everyone. Therefore, it is essential for individuals to prepare an emergency stock of food. The government recommends stockpiling “a week’s worth” of food in the event of a major disaster.
Drinking water (3 liters per person per day is a good rule of thumb) and emergency food (rice, cookies, chocolate bars, dried bread) are recommended for stockpiling. You should also prepare toilet paper, tissue paper, and a portable stove in case the electricity or gas stops. With this much preparedness, you will be able to cope with any situation to some extent.
Prepare an emergency bag
It is also recommended to prepare an emergency bag (see the picture below). If your home is severely damaged or if there is a concern about a secondary disaster, you will need to evacuate quickly. In such cases, this emergency bag will help you gather everything essential swiftly.
You should prepare items that will help you evacuate and items that will help with your stay in an evacuation shelter. For example, flashlights, gloves, and helmets are among the items that will help you evacuate, while clothing, blankets, and toiletries are among the items that will help you when you need to stay in an evacuation shelter.
Know the evacuation site and route
In order to be able to evacuate smoothly in the event of an earthquake, it is important to know the evacuation sites and routes beforehand. In some cases, it is difficult to obtain information after the earthquake because of the possibility of signal interference or damage or loss of your phone. Therefore, it is important to check in advance. You can check the website of your local government or the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s hazard map portal site (Japanese only).
Government guidelines in the event of an earthquake
So far, we have introduced what you should do to prepare for an earthquake. Here are the actions you should take when an earthquake actually occurs, based on government guidelines.
When you are indoors
If you feel a strong tremor indoors, hide under a sturdy desk. As we have mentioned earlier, the most common cause of injury is falling furniture, so secure your safety first. In the event of a large tremor, there is no need to force yourself to put out the fire on the stove, even if you have left it on. Your priority is to stay safe and under your desk until the shaking stops.
When you are outdoors
When an earthquake occurs outdoors, you need to be careful of falling or collapsing objects. For example, damage from falling objects such as broken glass from buildings or collapsing block walls can be expected. Therefore, stay as far away from buildings and tall walls as possible. If there is a vacant lot or park nearby, evacuate to those places as soon as possible.
When you are in a department store or supermarket
When you are in a department store or supermarket, protect your head and adopt a safe position – crouching down and protecting your head – during heavy tremors. Have a look at this video showing how you should act when inside a public building. At this time, showcases and products may fall, so it is recommended to protect yourself with clothes and/or bags. Once the shaking stops, the store staff will give you instructions, so do not panic and evacuate calmly.
Check the evacuation information after the tremors subside
After the shaking calms down, check the evacuation information. In the event of a major earthquake, gathering accurate information will help you figure out a safe evacuation site. First, try TV and cell phones, and if they don’t seem to connect, try 1seg (a mobile terrestrial digital audio/video broadcasting service) and radio. Make efforts to gather accurate information and evacuate safely.
The government’s response to protect residents from earthquakes
The government is taking a number of steps to protect residents from earthquakes. Here are some of the initiatives we should be aware of.
Warning by Earthquake Early Warning System
Earthquake Early Warning System is a system that notifies us when a major earthquake is detected by issuing an alarm before the tremor reaches us. It lets us know that a big earthquake is coming in a few seconds, so that we can secure our safety. Alerts can be received mainly through cell phones, TV, radio, and the Internet.
Providing the latest information through the Disaster Prevention Portal
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has compiled disaster prevention information on its Disaster Prevention Portal website. They provide everything you need to be aware of from a daily basis, to disaster prevention information. It also provides real time reports on the disasters, so you can quickly check the status of damage.
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Disaster Prevention Portal (English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and Portuguese)
Act as calmly as possible when an earthquake occurs
When an earthquake strikes, you need to know exactly what to do so that you can calmly take the best possible action at that time. For this reason, make sure to prepare in advance and discuss with your family and partner what to do in case of a disaster.
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